tv [untitled] June 2, 2012 3:30am-4:00am EDT
good r.t. the headlines for you now egypt's deposed dictator hosni mubarak could face execution or decades in jail if found guilty by cairo court moment in the deaths of hundreds just last year's evolution. from a leader awaits the verdict inside the courthouse due to announce short. in paris that president putin has urged the international community to stick to kofi annan peace plan to syria to prevent a full scale civil war while an independent panel has been asked by the united nations to investigate the massacre in which one hundred people many of them children were small. and facing the sack for speaking out the professor says he
set to lose his job as oppression of ethnic russians continues in the baltics that they feel academic is to be shown the door after hearing on r.t.m. discrimination. next meet the russian bikers recently freed from an iraqi jail now spotlight brother. i. think the. last. hello again and welcome to spotlight the intern the show on archie and calgary knowledge and today my guests on the show are a group of russian bikers who got into big trouble with. the group recently became
famous after being jailed in iraq detained on a visa for three charges based spend a week in prison where they were allegedly beaten and threatened with death bed but when the russian foreign ministry intervened the easier riders were released and flown back so how could this happen did they really enter iraq with fake visas or was it all fixed cost one of the travelers moxy mcknight's he and his uncle guinea put help organize the trip oh. i cheering crowd welcomed full russian bikers on monday when they returned home from iraq they were detained in new baghdad on the twenty eighth of may in charged with espionage and these a forgery the men are actually very experienced mood of bike tourists who previously traveled from the horn of latin america the united states mexico europe and china
in the iraqi jailed a man would beaten and even threatened with the death penalty found guilty the whole situation caused a diplomatic row now the russian foreign ministry spokesman admitted at the bike isn't a direct from turkey without valid iraqi visas most school did. everything it could to get the bikers back while they were still in jail hundreds of russian bikers how they really outside iraq's embassy protest in their arrest they deliver their petition to we were x. and russia asking for the man's release on their return to moscow the bikers blamed the media for not reflecting the real situation in iraq which they found was far more dangerous than they expected. as. any welcome to our program well first of all with regard to this anti thriller that was a trip. how solid was your experience as bikers at the time did you just go to iraq
and get into trouble right away being young and costly train riders or had you perform long distance trips before but trust in them with us in. our experience strikers. and alexander virginia for example have traveled all around the world including many countries in asia and south america not to mention europe in russia. south america remote and challenging region as well indeed. lots of places wherever we went we never had any problems at the cheese dip is it just tourism or is there more to them that for you it. is a hobby. and this is something we enjoy doing so that we have something to look back when we get older you give me your while the people who planned the journey
why did you choose iraq of all places is by far not a fabulous tourist destination these days. no not at all the guys had wanted this trip for a long time they had contemplated it for eighteen months the plan originally included of ghana's town too but to guys were strongly discouraged from that by people who can do. them that it's definitely not a friendly place because for iraq it was different we looked up the government websites and kept up with news so we were aware that country has a difficult period but then again if you judge to russia by t.v. news you'd never want to go there either we have terrorism too so we thought it would be really interesting to go there and see the country after all. have a second chance to visit mr but tommy and if we go iraq with iran our generation might never have such an opportunity again judging by news reports you can travel anywhere today even canada comes across as the world's most dangerous country with
arsons and police detaining people by the dozen smart that's true you've mentioned a couple who traveled with you once you are back in moscow he claimed that hugh had been misled by russian media which it gave he has effectively confirmed leg arise that from watching news in russia you hadn't realized there was a real war on iraq and he doesn't mean any particular news sources or would you say that russia's broadcast media generally presenting iraq as a place that's hardly more dangerous than russia. when we were preparing for the trip his various news sources including t.v. radio and internet there was little reliable information on the state of affairs in iraq. i cannot speak going to have a leg as this was his personal opinion. but i agree that what we actually saw in iraq what he did was different from the media perspective. this is
so you agree that by and large the media failed to provide reliable coverage that's right. all right. as someone who has just returned from this country how would you assess the situation in iraq and how is it really different from what the media tell us. but almost it's hard to say as we do understand that we happened to be there at the time of the summit and security was taken to the extreme. and what we saw there can be assessed as a police state or a total supervision regime. there was a large number of military and police there. overall didn't see any threats posed by gangs to the taliban and so on we were just reading our bikes. passing by checkpoints where they inspected our documents. so you didn't see any
actual war there no we didn't see a war there although you practically across the whole country from north to south as i'm going to make it to the hardest areas in the south did you actually want to go there but. no we didn't really get if we wanted to baghdad in baby and you guinea as i understand the guys were detained for having forged visas could you tell us how this happened because as someone who organized distribution be responsible for this. you better believe we had spent quite some time looking for a travel agency to get the resists down eventually we came across a company that facilitated the irina had already put through several groups of bikers to around. so you weren't even the first group to go there that's right russian bikers up walking to iran because iran is actually irregular destination nowadays iran and going there is almost like going to sot you for a vacation really become so we went to the stairwell agency and told him we want to
go to iran and then we ask them if they can do your records well and they said yes we have recently opened up around you guys wanted to be says for a two month period but the agency said they might not be able to do that too long a period but they would chant to make sure i do not seem kept in touch with them if you mean the agency yes the agency eventually they agreed to weaken the service and we discussed what documents were required from each of us indiana on a pre-arranged we happily clip today that one of the of the that's all junior to you why didn't you go to the embassy directly we did that one of the guys young off went there and they told him no problem but it takes two months and you have to provide a whole bunch of papers faster to go through a travel agency yes how long did it will take them ten or twelve days. those who watched the storm. media reports suggest that your visas were issued by
a consulate officer who as it turned out later had quit his job at the consulate a year ago just it is you do it i choose to in other words it was clearly a swindle but by whom by the consulate or by the travel agency because i knew much . too well we don't blame anybody. for the study but whose fault is it who do you blame. the people of course we blame the agency and we're going to sue them but going the other hand. any other bikers who used this agency before and the mound of money they got from the boys was significant. and think that it's not the agency's fault actually you get some middleman between the agency and the consulate . the amount was insignificant but the mess they got the boys into was significant first they ran into serious problems second they pay for the return tickets now they'll have to pay to bring
their bikes back but it's a lot of money that serious. this is not to mention general damages most if you're a young person you're not married yet right student do you really regard what happened to you as but i hate and suffering or was it brinkley more like an adventure for you. just but i can only say that during my stay there i've changed a lot and i've changed my outlook at life. but nationally i was like what can be when you're in prison and you don't know what's going to happen to you and you're told you're going to be executed. did they really mean that. counter-intelligence officers who talked to us said so literally i don't know if they really meant it i think i have to ask them they said so many times. but that was not because of visas right right and actually that was for. reasons they said they'd lock us up for ten years and that's it for visas yes we're going to give up
on it because people should know that we should know what kind of laws iraq has if i go there for example and something's wrong with my visa and it's not my fault i may get ten years. to do it. well you have to realize that those were security officers talking to us it's not in their goal was to intimidate us but i don't know whether what they said was true or not i mean it in any case it sounded very real and horrifying when you're in such a situation and your life is in danger by for sure quickly. so you think you are mature now how old are you you know what happened twenty five twenty five. you helped organize this trip but what does this strike us strange that there are border controls when you go abroad either a russian border guards iraqi border guards it is their responsibility to make sure that your visits are valid but. this is something we're learning only now.
when you guys went to court they thought they did not need a visa tall. they just stamp your passport that's all. i think it is all because of that summit because three other guys went earlier this same way and they had no problem. they're useless whatsoever all they do using a little buddy in iraq hears about jesus and they just stamp your passport and say you're welcome but i think the decease your thesis. that arguable when they needed to find something faulty with the boys saw that they didn't see anything about pieces until later though it didn't know they detained them for us and then they used visas as a pretext for the right to see. even the right to have any of guinea of one of the spotlight would be back shortly after we take a break so stay with us we'll continue this them to the human plus.
my parents really truly honestly believe that what had happened was as a result of my father's exposure to agent orange i was born with multiple problems . i was missing my leg and my fingers and my big toe on my right foot i use my hands a lot in my artwork i find myself drawing my hands quite a bit to me. for my hands you know just as if anyone would. but
must seem tell us about your arrest what exactly were you detained for. has just told us the invalid visas caught their attention when you had already been in custody for two days but if you did if so what was the initial purpose of your arrest did you break traffic rules or misbehave otherwise. you were writing a busy route. approaching baghdad right exactly we were getting stopped in checked twenty to thirty times a day and its various checkpoints every time they would look at our passports and then call their superiors and then every time they decided we could move on then we reached a checkpoint some hundred twenty kilometers outside of baghdad and once again they stopped us for an eighty check you know when this time dragged on for two or three hours it apparent from the start that they would lock you up or a dude looked like just another chance when he was absolutely routine business phone calls. then they decided to wait for their superiors to arrive in
major showed up and they decided they could not let us into baghdad with our bikes and that it would be inappropriate. you know this that for our own safety they would load our bikes in a truck and take us to a hotel in baghdad. what language did he speak when talking to you english. no one speaks english there he was erratic in body language but we got his message when you. do any of you speak farsi and we don't we spoke to him up to a point then we called the russian consul to figure out what was going on. oh yes so you managed to lead the consul no means yes and then we put him through and the consequence faded for us and he explicitly to. the police were not questioning your papers so it was fine. ok and when they brought you to baghdad did they take you straight to jail. and taking us from one precinct to another if
you don't have to the station as it was already eleven pm they brought us to a prison term or a real prison with bars and on every a prison for the lock you up together or in separate cells were placed in a single cell. did they give you any explanations they had initially told you it was for your own convenience but what did they see once they locked you often. marcellus netter we spoke to the head warden and he told this guys this is for your own safety and i stopped sorry for the tight security sorry for the handcuffs and the head bags. you had that i did yes and we walk around the courtyard single file so it's all for your own safety and you only have to spend a few days with us we were given no option for no thanks. were you allowed to keep your mobile phones in the meantime. and we usually carry several cell phones each
so when they asked us to him they mean that we saw in it one phone each. of the three. after a series of bad downs and searches were left with a single one with that in the one that we were determined to keep this time to meet that's across all of the. evil or separate the so you made one more call to the consulate to tell them something was going wrong which you probably figured out already they didn't let us do that in fact when the head warden found out we already had contacted the consul he was evidently upset or the next time we called the consul was in may twenty third. twenty third of us when he would attain on the evening of me twenty so you spent three days with no communication with you with that one was yourself out of. average family is just that you see making phone calls in a place like that is a risky business that we send text messages instead. of the welfare of the other people called the consulate force our friend yvonne from st petersburg did
a list with us oh so you texted him when yes the guys actually kept their phone off most of the time to save the better reception he called the consul and their families in russia by the families contacted the consul right away and he told them that he had already heard from the guys and that it would be alright they kept in touch with him all the time and he said they need not bori he'll take care of it this all took a few days and finally on may twenty third we got word from iran t.v. news crew who had contacted the consul and they told us the consulate would meet up with them and come to pick up the guys at five pm our friends texted us to say the same thought we were happy then we called the consulate five pm and he told us we mean warry and we shouldn't call him it would be ok nobody doubted that he stopped taking our calls and we were confused and we had been told we should keep quiet because if we make a fuss it might make things worse so we decided we would take no action until ten
am on may twenty fourth at three pm we got a message from the guy saying things were getting worse right then the head warden bided them over. who doesn't want to tell them they are in trouble with the new law to tell them they were about to walk they were waiting for the consul to arrive at the consulate cold on the phone and spoke to the head of warden who passed over the phone to a leg and the consul told him my wound be coming for you today all of that is when things got tough as far as i understand that is when they started late night it turned geishas in a rigorous search and took the phones away yes and they thoroughly searched the bikes which they didn't do before the bus was just parked inside and ride in the courtyard and then they started going through all the luggage and that's why. when they give the boys a thorough search this right they started interrogating us and they send we found loads of stuff on our bikes that was illegal in iraq just phones the cameras said lead firms like guns in t.v.'s are banned in iraq. that media spies.
ok so you're saying the warden got upset when he found out you'd already spoken to the consul. are you suggesting that the iraqis had intended to snatch you quietly and swiftly jail you or execute you or something because otherwise if you did that why would he be upset. and i have no idea what their intentions had been but when he learned were in touch with the consular families his disappointment was all but apparent on the streets of already while in jail where you literally exposed to physical violence the only time was that late night interrogation. was it exactly did the beach you or a tie you down one of our guys get beaten up. for or was it meant to make you more cooperative. the iraqi police have a peculiar method for interrogating people and it looks more like i don't know.
he told us there's this scene meaningless question over and over again up sort of the flash absurd well that's what it looked like to us maybe they were giving it something i don't know finally they told him we have punishment for spying in our country now admit you're a spy hewett out a nervous laugh and said you see it's ridiculous it's that left they didn't like they took it is an insult and get physical later on they said they had merely grabbed him by the neck then you should give them you want to say it was so they were trying to get you to confess to being spies after all security how soon was it that you actually realized this was not a misunderstanding or an exit and that you're in serious trouble you're in jail and you might even face a death sentence. so thorson as you have said it didn't seem all that serious at first. i would say so. and then the going got tough then.
i would say it was after our last call with the consul the security people got them into the excited and took to interrogating us. does this suggest that talking to the consul was actually bad for you know i wouldn't say that together must. we can only speculate maybe they thought the council was supposed to get these guys out but. we showed up maybe that should tell us something but you know maybe they wanted to earn a promotion we can only guess. so why didn't the consul come to pick them up we were told they were supposed to arrange a security escort in an armored vehicle for him in advance but the herder why they feel to do it in three days is anyone's guess my we have actually seen russian embassy staff leave their compound and indeed there is it a security procedure you do have to arrange a vehicle in invents i don't know why they failed to do it for us that i maybe was
exactly because of the senate maybe they were other reasons. scurry after it was all over and you are safe did the embassy people or anyone else give you any helpful advice for your future travels at the because i do hope that this was not your last towards the actually did and their biggest message was don't go biking in iraq with you not in the next five years at least but in the specifically iraq they're stationed in iraq so that's the place they know firsthand and they strongly discouraged anyone from writing to iraq. would that be your advice for everyone else is it just vice or and what about cars. do you see they have a complicated situation in iraq as far as foreigners are concerned christians particularly tough times. there are plenty of extremists in their country willing to take lives we arrived at a time when they had taken security there i'm not sure whether our rest actually saved their lives that were if it was just
a bad trip. what's your assessment of the way the russian diplomats deformed in this situation because in fact the russian foreign ministry is rather often criticized for being less than efficient in assisting our citizens abroad or do you believe they did everything they could for you. guys and myself we only saw the situation from behind bars we had no idea what was going on here in russia. i for one have not figured out yet has for the efforts contributed on the ground for a release. israel kooker it's ok what's your take any sharia law and there are quite a few serious questions and the bottom line is that you guys are here in one piece which means to foreign ministry has done his job but you know the specifics of how it was done will leave a few questions such as why did they fail to get through to us the first three days
when the media splashed you cough on the morning of may twenty fourth and just one day later the guys who were set free it off was all it to cause twenty four hours and people in moscow beginning the iraqi embassy in the media making a big fuss about it anymore but yeah. it enormously so keeping it quiet was an ill advised after all you know absolutely ever and what's your advice to all the travelers don't you feel you're in trouble if the media no. thank you thank you thank you for coming very much for being with us and just a reminder that my guest on the show today where russian biker might see midnight and give give me about of then you know it's one of the dive that organized the russian biker trip to iraq and that's it but now for all of us here spotlight we'll be back with more until then stay on r.t. and take a.